FINDING GOODNESS IN THE MIDST OF DIFFICULTY – DAY 7
If I asked you where the word ‘thanks’ rates in the Top 100 most-used English words, what would you say? We use it all day long, don’t we? For the small things, like when someone passes the salt, to the big things – someone bailing us out, propping us up, or passing away.
Certainly in terms of what rates as ‘goodness’, Gratitude is right up there next to Generosity, Awe, Mastery, Pleasure and Love (see Days 1-6). Sorry for all the grammatically unnecessary capitals, but these words are important – and in the creation of happiness, all the more so.
This series has encouraged ‘installing’ goodness – building positivity to combat the natural negativity bias. Installing means dwelling on, savouring, a moment of awe or mastery, and right there, in the very kernel of the moment of recognition, is thanks.
Gratitude, I feel, links me to other people deeply, and more than the other goodness generators. Feeling grateful for acts of kindness by others is so touching – we know we are not alone, and that others care. Humans are recognised as pack animals. When physically excluded we find it hard to survive. When emotionally excluded, our mood suffers. When babies are deprived of touch they live, but they no longer move or respond (remember the Romanian orphanages?). Acts of kindness by other people and our own gratitude link us invisibly together.
Today’s invitation is to contemplate how the coffee (etc) got into your cup or the food onto your plate. Just for fun, if it appeals, think about every human who helped to bring it to your table: from the supplier of the soil and seeds to the farmers, through the labourers, harvesters, transporters, packers, marketeers, supermarkets, and your spouse or the barista who sprinkled the chocolate powder on top. Invisible links in a chain of humanity.
To answer that first question – ‘thanks’ doesn’t even make it into the top 100. ‘Work’ does, however… What does this say about our priorities?
Mary Oliver: The summer day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around
with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,
how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Download Tick Chart PDF